Welsh rugby is dying – Where is Steve Phillips?

Welsh Rugby

It has been an interesting few weeks if you’re a follower of Welsh rugby, A first ever defeat to Georgia followed by throwing a 34-13 lead in the final quarter against Australia.

Those losses saw the end of head coach Wayne Pivac, who had been under pressure since March after Italy conquered Cardiff for the first time. Replacing Pivac is former Wales coach Warren Gatland, who makes a spectacular return after he left the post following the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Whilst the national side is looking for improvements in 2023, it is a whole lot bleaker at regional level, earlier this week Ospreys CEO Nick Garcia left his role on Monday to complete a wild day in Welsh rugby.

So, what is going on in Welsh rugby? Iestyn Rhys Thomas looks at some events off the field.

No sustainable plan for Welsh Rugby

In October, Chief Executive Steve Phillips urged the players of the four professional clubs to “stick with us”.

Last week, the Welsh Rugby Player Association (WRPA) issued a statement saying “For the sanity and health of our members, the delay cannot go on any longer”.

Before saying several members are “reluctantly seeking security elsewhere”.

We have already seen a couple of Welsh players deciding their futures.

One of the more noticeable ones was Will Rowlands, who will be joining French side Racing 92 next season, putting his World Cup spot in the balance as he hasn’t got the 60 caps required to be able to play international rugby whilst not playing regional rugby.

More recently, reports have emerged that Cardiff centre Max Llewellyn will be leaving the region to join a Gallagher Premiership club. At the time of writing, the four professional clubs still don’t know their budgets for next season despite a verbal agreement on a six-year framework.

With no budgets, there’s a freeze on player recruitment with the four sides unable to sign players from outside of Wales or re-negotiate with current players who are out of contract. How are players meant to pay their own bills and mortgages when they could be out of a job in six months?

Despite the verbal agreement, Scarlets head coach Dwayne Peel said the regions are still waiting for finance details.

An agreement needs to be reached as soon as possible, although I fear it might arrive too late for some players.

Is Phillips the right man to be CEO?

The short answer? No – a man so far out of his depth who has this amount of power over a £100m business is remarkable, Phillips will now hide behind the appointment of the new head coach whilst avoiding the real issues.

Scarlets supporters trust Crys 16 and CF10 Rugby trust have both called for Phillips to resign, however while the responsibility should be on the CEO’s shoulders – the whole governance needs reforming.

The amateur community clubs still hold the majority of power within Welsh rugby, which is ridiculously outdated, Sadly, I can’t see those community clubs surrendering power, it is going to be a bumpy couple of months ahead for the regions.

“Main Photo:” Embed from Getty Images